National Assembly passes bill to make basic education fundamental right

THE National Assembly has passed a bill that seeks to make free, compulsory and basic education a fundamental right of all citizens.

The bill titled ‘A Bill For An Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make free, compulsory and basic education a fundamental right of all citizens under Chapter IV of the Constitution; and related matters’ was passed during the voting on constitutional amendment in both chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday.


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At the House of Representatives, 307 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, while 88 votes were recorded for it at the Senate.

One vote was recorded against the bill in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Going by the provisions of the bill, every Nigerian citizen is entitled to free education in any government-owned primary school, and if denied, reserves the right to seek redress.

The Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 provides for uninterrupted access to nine years of free education, but the provision was not designated as a fundamental human right.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila who sponsored the bill had said it was aimed at eliminating illiteracy among Nigerian children, as, according to him, education was a right and not a privilege.

“We believe no child must be left behind. We must obliterate completely, the word illiterate,” he said.

    Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children globally.

    Over 10 million Nigerian children are out of school, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

    This figure is on the rise, owing to insecurity, especially the abduction of students by terrorists in Northern Nigeria.

    Though the North has a higher population of out-of-school children, the situation is not peculiar to the region, as it cuts across all parts of the country.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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